Portrait of a Bontoc Woman in Selected Literary Texts


  • Willow F. Pangket


On the theory that Bontoc myths were composed of male priests and elders, this paper explored and examined how Bontoc folklore represented women and exposed how power relations were gendered in traditional Bontoc society. Using Elaine Showalter's models of feminist criticism such as biological, psychoanalytic, linguistic, and cultural as the tools for analyses, this paper uncovered patriarchal ideologies implied in folktales and songs and revealed how male dominance was inscribed in traditional literary texts. Through the biological model, it emphasizes the physical aspects of a woman. Various body parts were effectively dismembered, and the woman's identity was her face, her language, her shiny skin, and her body was seen as a "womb" for sperm insemination. On the cultural model, the woman was associated with gardening, which is prevalent in Bontoc folklore and culture, further defining gender roles in the Bontoc community. Gardening and hunting as gender roles were commonly found in the selected stories of this paper. The psychoanalytic model portrayed the traditional Bontok woman as the recluse, the caged bird, the rejected lover, and the rebel. The emerging portrait of the contemporary Bontok woman has crossed some boundaries and begun to participate in the public sphere even though their bodies are women. Above all, the contemporary Bontok woman reveals a woman traversing between the private space of women and the public space of men. However, in the process, she has to fight and struggle to gain more freedom in an invincible patriarchal society and gain more access to the public sphere.